While some people do a great job of making health and wellness a priority all year long, some use a new year as an impetus to get started. If you are ready to embrace a healthier lifestyle in 2016, consider these tips offered by Ron Pellegrino, MD, of WVU Medicine:

Move your body – At least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity, such as walking, can help you live longer and healthier. Exercise can relieve stress, anxiety and depression, and elevate mood. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and several forms of cancer.

Build muscle strength – It’s important to build muscle mass with strength training. Weight training helps burn calories, changes body composition, and strengthens bones and connective tissue. Consider adding pushups, sit-ups and squats to your exercise routine.

Keep it colorful – Ensure that your diet includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables – at least five servings per day – as well as whole grains and other healthy choices. 

Try something new – Consider trying something new to add variety to your diet. Have you tried quinoa? This superfood is high in protein and contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Try adding fresh lemon juice and chopped dill to cooked quinoa. 

Avoid drinking calories – A can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar! Cutting out one twelve-ounce can of soda each day and replacing it with a calorie-free alternative, like water, can help you lose about 14 pounds in a year.

Kick the habit – Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person’s overall health. It’s the leading cause of premature, preventable death in this country. A pregnant smoker has a higher risk of having her baby born too early and with an abnormally low birth weight. If you’re having trouble “kicking the habit,” talk with your doctor. 

Reduce stress – While some stress can enhance performance, too much takes a mental and physical toll. Learn to manage stress levels to prevent anxiety, depression and other conditions. If you are feeling “stressed,” talk with someone. If you can’t seem to shake the anxiety, seek professional help.

Catch some z’s – Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your health. While stresses of daily life can impact sleep, some people may have undiagnosed sleep disorders. Talk with your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping. Try and get seven hours of sleep per night.

Get screened – It’s just as important to work with your healthcare provider to stay well as it is to seek treatment when you are sick. Routine screenings can reduce your risk of disease, and increase your odds for health and longevity.

Did you know?
WVU Medicine patients can use MyWVUChart to help manage their health. Tens of thousands of WVU patients are already using the system to view their health information and communicate with their provider. To learn more about this free, easy and secure online patient portal, visit MyWVUChart.com.